John Gauntner is recognized as the world’s leading non-Japanese sake expert. He is known as the Sake Dendohshi, or “The Sake Evangelist,” to the sake industry in Japan where he has lived since 1988. He penned the “Nihonshu” column in the Japan Times (Japan’s most widely read English language newspaper) from 1994 to 2002, followed by a weekly column on sake in Japanese for the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s most widely distributed Japanese newspaper. He has also published five books on sake, three in English and two in Japanese.
Known everywhere as “The Sake Guy,” John has written for or been quoted and/or mentioned in sake related articles in countless publications and has spoken on sake at dozens of venues across the US and Japan.
He is the only American to have participated as an official taster in a prefectural government tasting, as well as the only non-Japanese to have provided regular government-sponsored sake-related consulting assistance in the form of lectures to the brewing industry. He is the only non-Japanese to sit on the panel of the Ministry of Forestry and Fisheries’ “Award for the Promotion of Japanese Cuisine Overseas.” He serves as co-chairman and chief non-Japanese tasting panel member of the International Sake Challenge held in Tokyo each year. Furthermore, he is the only non -Japanese to ever take (and pass) the Kikizake Seminar (Sake Assessment Seminar) administered by the Nihon Jouzo Kyoukai, (Japan Brewing Society) to become the only non-Japanese certified Master of Sake Tasting in the world, and is one of two non-Japanese to receive the Sake Expert Assessor certification from Japan’s National Research Institute of Brewing.
He is the architect of the Sake Professional Course, and ardently strives through it to continuously raise the level of sake understanding world ’round.
What little life he has outside of sake finds him spending time with his wife and two children, passionately following Japan’s traditional sport of sumo, and trying with minimal success to learn and understand aikido.